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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  May 7, 2018 2:59pm-6:29pm EDT

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important, i think the progress on artificial intelligence, which could make huge changes in our economy very quickly, at some opinion, is going preaver challenge to the political and social structure because some people are probably going to find themes redundant. how will day department and others will have tremendous opportunities based on the new technology. their technology is begin fog become relevant to the economy, it's going to create some very big social and economic challenges in the next 25 years jam. >> i want to take -- we ran through or five mints long here, ken,i know i have to write a check now to the bush institute for below penalized he for the length of time. how about a nice round of applause for ben, hank, and eddie. [applause]
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>> u.s. senate about to goodfellow in returning from a week-long sees, considering the nomination of a judge for the fifth certificate court in new orleans, covering louisiana, mississippi and texasment more judicial nominations are expected to be taken up this week in the senate, and also just in the last units president trump tweeting, quote, ill will by announcing my decision ton the iran deal tomorrow from the white house at 2:00 p.m. live coverage on the c-span networks we may hear floor speeches about that. live senate coverage here on c-span.
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and lord, we thank you for the life, contributions, and legacy of our assistant parlimentarian: michael phillip beaver. sustain his loved ones and friends during this season of
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grief. we pray in your merciful name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, i'd like to pay respect to a member of the senate family who tragically passed away last week. michael beaver was a talented attorney who served as assistant parliamentarian. he was a deputy legislative counsel for the state of california. he was 39 years old. he leaves behind his wife gilda, his two beloved sons, bradley and connor, his parents and an extended family that mourns his loss. they are joined by his colleagues on the senate's staff in the secretary's office and
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the floor staff on both sides of the aisle and throughout our whole institution. so the senate's prayers are with all of michael's families and friends -- family and friends at this immensely difficult hour. now, mr. president, on a totally different matter, this week the senate will consider another slate of extremely well-qualified nominees for seats on the federal bench. a thoughtful, independent and expert judiciary is a cornerstone of our constitutional order. it's been the case since the very beginning of our country. accordingly the six circuit court nominees we'll now consider have excellent reputations in the legal field and have demonstrated they understand the proper role of federal judges in our government. first up is kurt d. engelhardt of louisiana, the president's
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choice to serve on the fifth circuit court of appeals. the senate previously confirmed kurt d. engelhardt by a voice vote to the eastern district of louisiana. since then he has strengthened his thoughtfulness. his legal peers describe him as, quote, very conscious and fair and independent minded. the american bar association agrees. it awarded judge engelhardt its highest rating of unanimously well qualified. i would urge every one of my colleagues to join me in advancing judge engelhardt's nomination later this afternoon. on one final matter, in storefront windows across america, new signs are going up, signs that new communities haven't seen literally in years. here's what the sanes say, now
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hiring. 16 months into this trump administration, and the percentage of american workers who are unemployed, underemployed, or giving up finding a job is smaller than it ever was in any of the obama years. in fact, it hasn't been this low since 2001. let me say that again, less under employment, unemployment, and discouragement than in the past 8 years. and there are fewer receiving unemployment benefits since 1973. we all know these economic indicators can be noisy, but the big overall shift from the obama era is impossible to deny. republican policies are taking washington's foot off the brake of the economy, we got rid of a
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hoes of job killers, provided jobs for job creators. this is a dynamic growing economy that is producing many more new jobs that put the stagnation of the last decade literally to shame. that means that sideline workers get to check back into the game. it means renewal is coming to so many small towns, small cities and rural areas that had to sit and watch as democratic policies funneled all the new wealth and new jobs into the nation's biggest and bluest urban areas. it means higher wages, and as local businesses are forced to compete again for the best workers. i recently read about a man name chandler stiffy. he owns a roofing company in iowa. three years ago in the obama economy, his laborers earned less than $15 an hour. today it's a different story. now the unemployment rate in
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iowa is under 3% and mr. stiffy pays $25 per hour to attract the best talent. american small businesses are doing well and outbidding each other for american workers. it feels good, doesn't it? after ten years of democratic policies this had practically become a foreign concept. not anymore. it's fa new day. more business for job creators which means more good jobs that need filling, which leads to higher pay for workers. this is all happening all over our country. rich obermash owns a small contracting business in paducah, kentucky. they retrofit electric systems and gas piping. he wrote to me and said, for our small company the tax cuts means we will be able to afford more trucks and tools. tax reform, he said, will allow
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us to invest back in our company and in turn allow us to invest in more people, more job openings and higher pay for oarks as a -- workers as a consequence. after eight years of democratic policies, this is a sight for soar eyes. this is from the republican pro-opportunity, pro-worker agenda. mr. mcconnell: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call: mr. schumer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. now, first we recently received some terribly sad news. michael beaver, an assistant parliamentarian here in the senate, passed away unexpectedly last week. his death at the young age of 39 is shocking and its suddenness tragic for the family, friends, his children, coworkers that he left behind. michael was incredibly bright, unfailingly honest, had a quick wit and a dry sense of humor. i know that as an assistant
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parliamentarian, he was a member of a small but crucial team of behind-the-scene staffers without hom the senate couldn't function. our thoughts are with his family today, especially his wife gilda, his two young boys who will remember him as a loving and devoted father. in the words of scripture, blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. now, on another matter, as the senate returns to work after the recess, we're scheduled to process six circuit court judges over the next few weeks. some of these judges are noncontroversial and received support from their home state democratic senators and we'll work with the majority to confirm them. but michael brennan, second in line this week will receive a cloture vote on the floor of the senate, even though one of his home state senators, senator baldwin, has not returned a blue shislip for his nomination.
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when you hear the facts here, they're appalling. not just his ideology, although mr. brennan is a very conservative nominee who failed to earn the recommendation of a functioning bipartisan commission that was set up by both senator baldwin, democrat, and senator johnson, a republican. to recommend federal judicial nominees. that's how people want us to do things in a bipartisan way. i've been able to work out judge nominations in a bipartisan way in the senate when we had a republican president, a republican governor. but that was overrun. this is now the second time that chairman grassley has ignored the blue slip tradition in this congress. here's the part that really burns me, and i think many others who are fair minded in the senate and in this country. the seat that mr. brennan would fill on the seventh circuit was
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held opened for six years, six years via blue slips. senator johnson did not turn in a blue slip and the seat 125eud -- the seat stayed vacant. now that blue slip of senator baldwin that we have a republican president is being ignored. what a double standard. what hypocrisy. when people ask are we being obstructionists, let the shoe fit as to what happened to this seat on the seventh circuit. that was historic obstruction, yet senator leahy faithfully preserved the blue slip tradition and kempt the circuit seat vacant for six years. listen to this. during those six years, none other than mr. brennan himself,
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the nominee, wrote an op-ed defending senator johnson's write to refuse a return -- right to refuse to return a blue slip for the seventh circuit vacancy. of course, irony of ironies, it is now mr. brennan who is up for confirmation over the objection of one of his home state senators. where is the defense office senatorial courtesy today? making matters worse, is the fact that the hard, hard right is pushing very conservative nominees way out of the mainstream, and the pressure on my friend, and he is my friend, the republican leader, to ignore all of the traditions, the blue slip above all, and create this double standard to me is really galling.
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now, on wednesday of this week, the judiciary committee will hold a hearing on ryan bounds, for the ninth circuit of oregon. he has not received a blue slip from either senator, senators wyden or merkley. it will be the first time -- the first time the judiciary chairman has allowed a nominee to proceed who lacks the support of both home state senators and will be the third time this congress chairman grassley who showed himself a statesman when he moved the bipartisan bill on special counsel last week but in this case there's no statesmanship showing. third time he's ig senatorred the century-old blue slip tradition. when democrats held the majority, we respected the blue slip tradition, not just because it was some es sow tearic -- es so terrick custom but blue slips
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is a way to force consensus on nominees. you don't get many nominees with the blue slip far right and far left and those judges tend to want to make the law, not interpret it. we want all our nominees, whether they're nominated by a republican or democratic president, to be qualified and to have demonstrated excellence in their careers. blue slips were a way to encourage the senate to come together around qualified nominees. i assume that's why 41 republican senators a few years back, 2009, wrote to president obama to say, quote, we as a conference expect senatorial courtesy the blue slip tradition to be observed even-handedly regardless of party affiliation. let me read that again. this is what senator mcconnell and senator grassley signed. we expect as a conference -- we
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as a conference expect senatorial courtesy the blue slip tradition to be observed even-handedly and regardless of party affiliation. majority leader mcconnell, chairman grassley both signed that letter. today they're singing a different tune. so while we want to work with our republican colleagues to confirm nominees expeditiously, we're very disappointed in the way they have trampled the blue slip tradition. and when my colleagues come to me and say what about comity, what about working together? is goes both ways. goes both ways. this is appalling. it's unfair. it's wrong. and it's another degradation of how the senate has always functioned. now, on the subject of health care, last week insurance companies in the state of virginia announced that health
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insurance premiums would be much higher this coming year, more than 100,000 virginians who rely on these plans are staring at a proposed 2019 premium that will be 15% or 27% or 64% higher depending on which insurer they use. in filing their rates, the health insurers are pointing to the actions of the trump administration and congressional republicans as major reasons for the premium increases. the trump administration and our republican friends in congress are the reason -- are the reason these premiums are going up according to insurers. they suggest that's one of the reasons. remember, president trump canceled payments for the cost-sharing program which reduces premiums and out of pock death expenses for -- out of
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pocket expenses for low income americans. congress repealed the health care coverage requirement which the c.b.o. itself predicted would raise premiums by 10% more each year than they would otherwise be. and result in millions of more people without insurance. and sometimes our republican colleagues make a mistake and speak the truth and admit that they're to blame in good part for these premium increases. here's what former secretary tom price, h.h.s. secretary said. quote, he believes that repealing the individual mandate will actually harm the pool in the exchange market and cons queen -- consequently that drives up the cost for other folks n. is not chuck schumer, democrat, this is the former republican congressman, the h.h.r. secretary saying the republican acts are causing premiums to go up.
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and the sabotage doesn't end there. as we speak, the trump administration is finalizing a rule that would expand the availability of junk insurance plans, that would force higher premiums on people with preexisting conditions, and impose an age tax on older americans, and once again could subject americans to the devastating effects of medical bankruptcy. make no mistake, all of this sabotage by republicans has consequences. trumpcare is already heralding double-digit premium increases in states across the country. the rates in virginia were bad. the rates in maryland may be worse. maryland insurance companies are announcing 2019 rates today and one p.p.o. plan is asking for a 91% increase. 91%. for the sake of a political vendetta, again the hard right,
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repeal obamacare. show it doesn't work. republicans are taking it out on millions of american families by making the rates higher. to prove a political point so that donald trump can do a few more tweets? it's not going to stick. it's not going to work. the american people know who's in charge. the republicans have the presidency, the house, the senate. the buck stops there. when the rates go up. president trump and republicans promised americans a better, cheaper health care system. remember, president trump said he was going to take care of everybody. those are his words. and deliver, quote, health care that's far less expensive and far better. president trump simply has not delivered. president trump talked and talked and talked as he ran and while he was president of making health care better and cheaper, but in every respect he has failed to deliver.
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in every respect he's made the problem worse. simply put, president trump has dropped the ball on health care and the public knows it. finally, a word on the republican tax bill. from the very beginning of our debate on taxes, republicans insisted that their bill was about helping the american worker, even though the g.o.p. tax bill directs 83% of its benefits to the top 1%. president trump and the republicans said it would be, quote, a middle-class miracle. their theory was, give the big corporations and the wealthy a massive tax cut and the benefits will trickle down to everyone else. even though that theory has been debunked over and over and over again. still president trump repeatedly
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promised that workers would see a raise of $4,000 or more as a result of the republican tax bill. i'd like to ask most americans if they've gotten a $4,000 raise as the white house promised because according to the april jobs report, hourly earnings have not increased significantly and are actually up just 2.6% over the past 12 months. last month average hourly earnings increased by just 4 cents, hardly $4,000. that's -- no matter how you look at it, the republican tax bill has failed to deliver anywhere close to the wage growth that was promised. the harsh fact of the matter is corporations aren't using the bulk of their tax savings to boost worker pay or provide individual additional benefits or hire more workers or buy more equipment. they're using the freedom nantz of the tax savings -- freedom
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nantz of the tax savings on something called stock buybacks. the c.e.o. says let's buy back the stock. his shares go up. the shareholder shares go up. the american worker is left holding the bag. according to a recent analysis by just capital, only 6% of the capital allocated by companies from the tax bill savings have gone to employees while nearly 60%, ten times as much, gone to shareholders. more than $390 billion has been authorized this year on corporate buybacks, something we used to prohibit or make very difficult while only 6.7 billion has been spent on one-time bonuses and wage hikes. so another republican truth teller is now getting pummeled a little bit for it but i respect him. senator marco rubio. here's what he said. there's still a lot of thinking on the right that big
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corporations are happy, they're going to tat money they're saving and reinvest it in american workers. in fact, these are his words. sounds like mine. in fact, they bought back shares. a few gave out bonuses. there's no evidence whatsoever that the money has been massively poured back into the american worker. let me repeat that. this is marco rubio, republican of florida. there's no evidence whatsoever that the money has been massively poured back into the american worker. mr. president, i couldn't have said it better myself. president trump and the republicans promised a middle-class miracle with tremendous raises for workers, but they once again haven't delivered. instead, the american people have been saddled with higher deficits and larger debt while corporations reward wealthy executives and shareholders. even republican senators are starting to admit it. so i've heard some commentators say, well, maybe the public says
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we don't like the president's tweeting, we don't like that he changes his story, we don't like prevaricating, but at least he's delivering. not with the tax bill, where so much of the wealth is going to the top. not on health care, where premiums are going up. the american people will have the right to protest come november, which i believe they will. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. cornyn: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: madam president, i'd ask consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order, the leadership time is reserve 0ed. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session and resume consideration of the following nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary. kurt d. engel hart of lewis to be united states circuit judge for the fifth circuit. mr. cornyn: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: madam president, one of the items on our two-do list is continuing to confirm
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the president's nominees, which have faced an unprecedented level of obstruction and down-stride foot-dragging. it is maddening to see our democratic colleagues insisting that we go through all the motions and the time limits set out in the rules when nominees are confirmed 99-1 or 100-0. in other words, these are not controversial nominees in many cases, and there's simply no reason to drag their feet and to prevent the senate from doing other important work, including confirming more nominees. we'll certainly be revisiting that issue more in the coming days. but one of the important positions that we are going to be taking up this week is gina haspel who has been nominated to be director of the central intelligence agency, and her confirmation hearing will be before the senate intelligence committee this wednesday. i will proudly support her to be the first female c.i.a. director
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in our nation's history. certainly not for that reason alone, but because she is an outstanding nominee. i hope our colleagues and their ideological soul mates across the aisle will cease and desist from untruthful attacks on this talented, well-respected woman who is much revered by her fellow professionals if in the intelligence community. i still have a hard time accepting the treatment that dre was even allowed to defend himself against the accusations made against him during his nomination process for head of the veterans administration. and i simply think what it does when people realize that their reputation that they've worked all their lives to achieve is subject to being torn down by reckless and untruthful attacks, it discourages good people from wanting to serve in the united states government. and that's our loss and not just
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theirs. i think it's important to see the country -- for the country's young women to see someone like ms. haspel leading an agency as vital to our national security as the c.i.a. women everywhere will be watching this week, and democrats should show them that ambition, good character, and hard work are always welcome and rewarded in the upper echelons of the united states government. of course the c.i.a. is not a partisan agency, but some partisans are endangering our national security to treat it as such when they oppose ms. haspel's nomination largely on ideological grounds, with scant attention being paid to the circumstances and the difficult decisions that had to be made immediately following the terrorist attacks of september 11, 2001. in ms. haspel's case we have the benefit of the fact that she served not just for a short
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period of time, not just in the post-9/11 world, but literally for 33 years. we also have the challenge of knowing that a lot of her activities on behalf of the united states government and in defense of our national security were classified. that is they cannot be publicly disclosed without risking lives and certainly the methods and the sources by which information is obtained for our intelligence community so they can then present it to the policy-makers here in washington. but we do know that ms. haspel joined the c.i.a. in 1985 during the final years of the cold war. she is a career intelligence officer and has served, as i said, more than 30 years both overseas and here in washington. and she's held various leadership roles, including deputy director of the national clandestine service. she's also worked in the counterterrorism center where her first day of work was, you guessed it. september 11, 2001, the day the
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twin towers fell and the pentagon was attacked, and approximately 3,000 americans lost their lives. throughout her career, ms. haspel has held some of the most demanding assignments in far-off reaches of the globe, places like africa and the middle east, which she did not seek out but which she took because she saw them as her duty. that's exactly the kind of person we need leading the central intelligence agency, someone who sees that as their duty. we've received -- she's received numerous rewards which lend credence to her reputation and illustrate that other accomplished professionals held her in high regard. these awards include the presidential rank award, the most prestigious award in the federal civil service. she's also received the intelligence medal of merit and several others. her integrity and professionalism are beyond question. those who know her best, including high-ranking obama-era
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officials, are behind her 100%. for example, former director of national intelligence james clapper said he thinks the world of ms. haspel. she's capable, smart, and very experienced, well-respected by the agency rank and file, and is a great person. leon panetta, who was former chief of staff to bill clinton when he was president, served as c.i.a. director and then secretary of defense, says that he's glad that we'll have the first woman as head of the c.i.a., and that ms. haspel knows the c.i.a. inside and out. former c.i.a. director john brennan, who also worked under president obama, has cited her ability to provide unvarnished, a political, objective intelligence to president trump and to others. and then earlier this spring, 53 former senior u.s. officials said the senateish -- senate select committee a letter in
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which they expressed support of ms. haspel. this includes -- this group includes people like secretaries of state henry kissinger and george schultz, former attorney general, michael mukasey and many other distinguished americans. and now we know, though, because of what's been reported in the paeurpb by the so -- paper by the so-called nameless, faceless sources that some have sought to distort the decisions that she and other intelligence officials had to make in the post-9/11 world. i just happened to pick up an account. this one is called the manhunt by peter bergen, which is a "new york times" bestseller and he talks about the ten-year search for osama bin laden from 9/11 to abbotabad. he talks about the climate here in washington and this country after the terrible attacks of
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9/11. he says the urgency of finding bin laden was underlined when the c.i.a. discovered that he met with retired pakistani nuclear scientists during the summer of 2001 to discuss the possibility of al qaeda developing a nuclear device. general richard myers, the chairman of the joint chiefs, says that six weeks after 9/11, president bush told the meeting of his national security council that bin laden may have a nuclear device big enough to destroy half of washington, d.c. in fact, al qaeda had nothing of the sort, but in the panicked aftermath of 9/11, such a threat could not be easily discounted. so thankfully, while that did, there did not prove to be any credence to the allegation that al qaeda had potentially acquired a nuclear device that could destroy half of washington, d.c., it just helps
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us to think back about what the environment was and why it was so important to have professionals like gina haspel and others doing their job in accordance with the rule of law and trying their best to keep our country safe. one of the most ironic complaints, madam president, about opponents of this nomination is they don't have enough information about ms. haspel, and say that she's hidden behind a wall of secrecy. well, for somebody who's been involved as an intelligence officer in some of the most sensitive, secret, classified work on behalf of the u.s. government for the last 33 years or so, what do they expect? this obviously -- the agency has done a number of things to try to declassify through the office of the director of national intelligence some information in order to give us some flavor and context to her background and her history. but it's ridiculous to expect
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somebody who has served their whole life, their whole professional life in the clandestine service to have a public record that we could talk about in an unclassified setting. but at least organizations like "the new york times" believe that ms. haspel, as they say, is a known quantity in the croix -- in the c.i.a. who knows how to run intelligence operations. she's been in the agency, as having loyally followed lawful orders during the relevant period of time. the other thing you hear is that, questions that have been repeated ad nauseam by some about interrogation tactics used in the early days on the war on terror when the nation was bracing itself for terrorist attacks like the one president bush feared if bin laden got its hands on a nuclear device. the questions have been asked and answered and this is another
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rehash. the program was investigated twice by career lawyers at the justice department, one under president bush and the other under president obama. and those career lawyers who have no partisan gain to make one way or the other concluded that both times that criminal charges were not warranted. furthermore, the justice department under president obama and multiple federal courts credited the work done overseas and the intelligence gain there as keeping our country safer. i know we often talk about connecting the dots, but that's what intelligence operations do frequently, is get discreet pieces of information and try to put it together to paint a picture in order to understand what our adversaries around the world are trying to do. and so that's what she was a part of, is collecting those dots to create a picture to help inform policy decisions being made by the president and
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members of congress. finally, you'll hear people talk about the destruction of videotapes of detainees. but the fact is the so-called morell memo recently disqualified provided the sort of transparency i would think we would all want and essentially exonerated ms. haspel of any wrongdoing regarding her supervisor's decision, not her decision, her supervisor's decision in 2005 to destroy videotapes of interrogations. in it, mr. morell says, quote, i find no fault with the performance of ms. haspel. i've concluded that she acted appropriately in her role. you can't get much clearer than that. as our colleague, the junior senator from arkansas, has said, haspel did not go rogue or make these policies on the fly. she dutifully executed the approved policy as determined by the department of justice and she did so in one of the most
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dangerous moments in our history, and that is precisely what our nation asked of her, and that's exactly what she did. former c.i.a. national clandestine service director john bennett has gone even further calling her one of the most accomplished officers of her generation, which is high praise indeed. but maybe former secretary of state condoleezza rice said it best. she said if you were not in a position of authority on september 11, you had no idea the pressures that we faced to try to make sure this country wasn't attacked again. walk a mile in our shoes, and you'll understand some of the things that we've dealt with. i'd ask our colleagues to do just that, to walk a mile in msn intelligence officer who was sworn to defend the country, to use every lawful means in order to keep our country safe and to remember 9/11 and the terrifying
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aftermath was the sort of environment that she and other people in the united states government had to operate in with advice from the highest levels of legal advice provided by the office of legal counsel at the department of justice. finally, let me just say what a horrible message it would send to not swiftly confirm gina haspel to other patriots who feel the call to serve. what horrible message it would send to other intelligence officers who follow lawful orders and protect our country on a daily basis. it would likely make the c.i.a. more risk averse, and in turn make americans lives more endangered. based on recent news reports, we know that this past week we're told ms. haspel even considered withdrawing her name from consideration because she feels such fierce loyalty to the c.i.a. that she doesn't want any political theater staged during the confirmation hearing to
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tarnish the agency's reputation. that is exactly the type of person she is. putting our nation's security and her fellow intelligence officers before her own career advancement. but i'm glad she's reconsidered and she's willing to fight the fight and stay to the end and to be nominated and -- both nominated and confirmed as director of the c.i.a. so i for one am glad that ms. haspel has decided to not back down based on intimidation tactics and more rumors and hearsay, unsubstantiated i might add. we've seen one trump nominee get unfairly smeared by half-truths, innuendo and hearsay. we can't let that happen again. ms. haspel didn't ask for this fight. if that's what it takes to get america the best, most qualified person to lead the c.i.a., we're more than willing to wage and to win that fight for her and the rest of the country. madam president, i yield the
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floor. mr. nelson: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: madam president, i have just returned from puerto rico. i went there at the invitation of governor rosio. i spent time with his secretary of housing. i spent time with members of his executive staff. i went up into the mountains in the city named lasp piadras. according to the mayor who showed me a number of the residential neighborhoods, 30% of that city does not have
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electricity. it has been eight months since the two hurricanes, first maria and then irma, hit the island of puerto rico, our fellow u.s. citizens. and there are still major parts of the island that do not have electricity. in this town of 30,000 you could go to different locations. one particular location up further up the mountain, no electricity. so i asked the residents that i talked to, how are you coping? what do you do? they had a generator, but because of the shortage of fuel and the cost of the fuel, they can't run the generator all the
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time so they use it for the necessities of cooking and other chores basically during the day, therefore, they have no refrigeration. i asked, what do you do? they showed me. the fellow had just come from the grocery store down the mountain, which they have to go and get their groceries that are perishable every day, cook them for that day, consume them because they do not have refrigeration, and it's eight months after the hurricane. can you imagine that happening in any of our states on the mainland? can you imagine the degree of anger and insistence that there be the full recovery?
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and yet this is happening to fellow u.s. citizens on the island of puerto rico. they are coping. they are a very, very indust trius an inventive people. as they recover, they are looking at new ways, instead of just yowg on what has -- allowing on what has been in the past, an electrical grid, tesls has inspected this pilot project on top of a mountain, an array of solar cells, the most efficient that have been produced, and that array of solar panels so supplying
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electricity full time to 12 houses up on the mountain. we need more of that. we need more of that as a backup to the electrical grid, and in some cases, a replacement for the electrical grid since it has been so unreliable in the past. therefore, madam president, i wanted to bring this report to the senate. puerto rico will make it, although jobs are scarce, although many thousands have fled to the mainland to stay with relatives, although many of those that i met, thank goodness fema extended the temporary
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housing assistance to get those families through the end of the school year as their children would be uprooted in the middle of final exams and graduations were appropriate had temporary assistance had not been appropriated until the end of june. but many of them want to go back but there's no job to go back to. there's a home that is now completely filled with mold and mill mildew -- mold and mildew. i think we will see some make their life and0 the mainland -- life on the mainland. many have come to my state of florida. my report then to the senate is, we've got to do more.
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the army corps of engineers has to keep pressing on with rebuilding the electrical grid. we must also go out and try to set up as many of the alternate electricity projects, such as the tesla, and hopefully we will see some returning to normalcy. you would have thought that by eight months after a major hurricane that would have already occurred. it has not, and i'm sad to report this to the senate. madam president, i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. kennedy: we are in a quorum call, are we not, mr. president? the presiding officer: we are. mr. kennedy: i would ask that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kennedy: mr. president, i have one request for committee to meet during today's session of the senate. the committee has the approval of the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mr. kennedy: thank you, mr. president, mr. president, in a few minutes we're going to be voting on president trump's nomination of mr. kurt englehardt to be a judge for the united states court of appeals for the fifth circuit. and i can't think of a nominee who is more deserving and more qualified for this job. judge englehardt is the chief judge of the united states district court for the eastern district of louisiana. he has been on the federal
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bench, federal district court bench, for 17 years. if you add up all of the cases that he has actually tried to verdict or to judgment, i think it's somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 to 100. that's on top of hundreds undoubtedly thousands of motions that he has heard. he's eminently qualified. but rather than reciting his resume to you, mr. president, i just want to share with you a personal experience that i had in judge englehardt's court. a number of years ago the city of new orleans sued a major wall street investment bank in a dispute over a $171 million bond issue. the bonds were called, are called pension obligation bonds. it's an extraordinarily complex transaction. i was called as a witness
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because at that point in my life i was the state treasury sherr of louisiana and chairman of the state bond commission, and we had jurisdiction over the bonds when they were issued. i wasn't exactly sure whether i was a fact witness or expert witness. my point is i was on the stand for maybe five hours, six hours, and i got to observe a little bit about the case by judge engelhardt. the plaintiff's counsel representing the city of new orleans and the firefighters pension system, a handful of the finest lawyers in the state of louisiana, indeed i would say in the country. representing the wall street investment bank was a partner and a number of associates from a major wall street law firm. in addition to their lawyers, there were dozens of clerks and
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associates and paralegals. it looked like bourbon street on saturday night, there were so many people. i remember thinking how many thousands and thousands and thousands of hours these lawyers and paralegals and clerk had spent understanding this case. and you could tell very quickly that both sides, both sets of lawyers knew this case backwards and forwards. they had almost memorized the depositions. as a lawyer it was fun for me to watch. they were going after it hammer and tong. they could recite chapter and verse from the legal briefs, from the law books, from the depositions. but there was one person, mr. president, in that courtroom among all of these accomplished professionals who knew more about the case than anybody else, and that was the presiding
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judge, kurt engelhardt. he had total command of the subject matter. not easy. this was a very, very, very complex municipal securities offer. he had total command of the courtroom. both lawyers, both sets of lawyers being aggressive, accomplished litigators, tested him quite often. that's what good lawyers do. they'll push the envelope. he maintained firm control without ever raising his voice. and i got to watch him in operation for five or six hours, mr. president. i had never been in his courtroom before. but after watching judge engelhardt in operation, i understood why just about every lawyer in louisiana who files a lawsuit in the united states district court for the eastern district of louisiana hopes that he or she gets judge engelhardt
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for the judge, because he is that good. the only group of lawyers i know that hope they don't get judge engelhardt for a judge in the united states district court for the eastern district of louisiana are those that are unprepared and don't know their case because he's not going to tolerate the court's time being wasted. for that reason, mr. president, i am proud to stand here today along with my colleague, the senior senator from louisiana, senator bill cassidy, and recommend categorically and unequivocally, unconditionally to my colleagues the nomination of judge kurt engelhardt to be a member of the united states court of appeals for the fifth circuit. he will serve us proudly and well. and with that, mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call: the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. robert robert i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be -- mr. roberts: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion, we,
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the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22, do hereby bring to a close debate on the nomination of kurt d. engelhardt of louisiana to be united states circuit judge for the fifth circuit, signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the nomination of kurt d. engelhardt of louisiana to be united states circuit judge for the fifth circuit shall be brought to a close? the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: have all senators voted? any senator wish to change their vote? on this vote the yeas are of 4. the nays are 31. the motion is agreed to. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: majority leader of the senate. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate resume legislative session for a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i understand there's a bill at the desk. i ask its first reading. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title of the bill for the first time. the clerk: h.r.4, an act too reauthorize programs of the federal aviation administration and for other purposings -- purposes. mr. mcconnell: i ask a second reading and in order to place the bill on the calendar under the provisions of rule 14, i object to my own request. the presiding officer: objection having been heard, the bill will receive its second
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reading on the next legislative day mip i ask unanimous consent that the finance committee be discharged from further consideration of s. 1732 and the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. 1732, a bill to amend title 11 of the social security act to promote testing of incentive payments for behavioral health providers for adoption and use of certified electronic health record technology. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. the committee is discharged. the senate will proceed. mr. mcconnell: i further ask the white house amend which is at the desk be agreed to, the bill as amended westbound considered read a third time and passed and the motions to be considered made and laid on the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today it adjourn until 2:30 tuesday, may
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8. further, that following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day and morning business be closed. i further ask that following leader remarks, the senate proceed to executive session and resume consideration of the engelhardt nomination. finally, that all time during recess, adjournment, morning business, and leader remarks count postcloture on the engelhardt nomination. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. mcconnell: if there's no further business to come before the senate, i ask it stand adjourned under the previous order following the remarks of senators cassidy and cantwell. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. cassidy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. cassidy: mr. president, the nomination before us is for the u.s. -- united states court of appeals for the fifth circuit and specifically judge kurt engelhardt, and i rise today to voice my strong support. judge engelhardt is a louisiana native earning both his bachelor's degree and law degree from louisiana state university. i should note that judge engelhardt was a member of the golden band from tigerland while a student, one of the great college marching bands. he may have missed all of the marching because he took up marathoning years ago and has now completed 13 marathons including the boston and new york marathons. all this to say that the man has a personal life, which is active and vigorous. after law school, he clerked for judge charles grisholm, he
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practiced law before becoming an associate and then partner at hailey, mcnamara, hall, and paypel. in 2001, president george w. bush nominated him for a seat on the u.s. district court for the eastern district court of louisiana. the senate confirmed him bay voice vote -- by a voice vote in december 2001, demonstrating deg that body gave him bipartisan support as a quality candidate. he has been the chief judge of the eastern district of louisiana since 2015. judge engelhardt has been an active member of the new orleans chapter of the federal bar association, serving on the board of directors for ten years and as chapter president since it -- since 2011. he is a member of the new orleans bar association, and the fifth circuit judges association. in 2004, he was appointed by the 10 of the to serve on the
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judicial conference committee on federal-state jurisdiction for two terms and has also served on the louisiana supreme court judiciary commission. judge engelhardt is also very active serving in the new orleans community, having served on the board of directors of the cancer association of greater new orleans for more than 20 years. judge engelhardt was confirmed out of the judiciary committee on february 8, 2018 is on a bipartisan basis. the committee recognizes that confirming good, qualified judges who will uphold the constitution is one of the senate's top priorities. judge engelhardt is the kind of fair-minded, experienced person we need serving on the bench. he has served the people of louisiana well as an article iii judge for the past 17 years. i have no doubt he will continue to serve with the same high standards on the fifth circuit court of appeals. i support the nomination of judge kurt engelhardt and urge all colleagues to do as well. thank you, mr. president.
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the presiding officer: the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: mr. president, i come to the floor to pay tribute to reverend dr. samuel b. mckinney, a civil rights icon from the pacific northwest. in august of 1963, martin luther king jr. inspired a nation from the steps of the lincoln memorial here in washington, d.c., boldly proclaiming that now is the time to make justice a relate at this time for all of -- a reality for all of god's children. meanwhile, in the basement of mt. zion baptist church, dr. samuel mckinney was already taking up that cause. he stood before his fellow religious leaders, pastors, rabbis, priests and asked them to join him in the struggle for equality and justice for all. and for more than 40 years he never gave up the fight
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advocating for economic and social justice in seattle, washington. and throughout our nation. refusing to yield to the deep-seated prejudice and violence he became known has a pillar of seattle's civic life and a moral consciousness of our community. tomorrow many washington to enians will come together -- wash to enians will come together to celebrate his life to remember his wisdom, his advocacy, his deep and unshakable belief in justice, his steadfast commitment to his community and to his church, his service to our nation and the united states air force and his devotion pass a husband, a father, and friend. he was a third-generation baptist minister. he took up the struggle for justice at an early age. he was inspired by the prowess of jesse owens and joe lewis and
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civil rights leaders of our generation and no influence was more profound than the sermons of his own fathers, the dr. reverend wade mckinney never shrank from the opportunity to use his pulpit to fight back. and decades later, from his own pulpit at mt. zion baptist church in seattle, dr. samuel mckinney continued his farmer's efforts. he repeatedly fought back against injustice in every form leading civil rights marches in the 1960's, protesting school segregation in the 1970's, and demonstrating against apartheid in the 1980's. he led boycotts against companies that refused to hire black workers and develop and promoted workforce training programs for people who were struggling to find employment. he protested unfair education policies and started an accredited preschool and
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kindergarten program that helped establish the first black-owned bank in seattle. and he serve th served as an orl member of the seattle human rights commission helping to pass our city's first fairhousing act. dr. mckinney also brought, through his leadership to the national stage, dr. martin luther kin martinluther king's o seattle in 1961 featured in this historic photo. he also, dr. mckinney, participated in the selma-to-montgomery voting rights march in 1965. in 1980 he was arrested for speaking against apartheid at the south african consulate in seattle. and at 66 years old, dr. -- and at 86 years old, he was still fighting back speaking at the prayer vigil of seattle for trayvon martin. so dr. mckinney's legacy does
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live on. the courages of his actions, his visionary leadership and his quest for justice. but perhaps most of all his legacy lives through the extraordinary community that he built at mt. zion church. it was at mt. zion that he mentored fellow ministers, imparted inspirational guidance. it is where he baptized newborns, presided over weddings and helped families bury their loved ones and maintained his steadfast commitment to parishioners. at mt. zion he raised his two daughters, dr. laura ellen mckinney and rhedo mckinney jones, along with his wife. they made sacrifices for the community. she, too, was a savvy, strong supporter of education and the arts. under dr. mckinney's leadership, mt. zion flourished and tripled its membership. his church and his community stand as a true testament to
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dr. mckinney's life and what it meant in seattle. today it shows the enduring faith that drove him in all that he did. dr. mckinney made this fight for justice and equality his lightestlong mission -- his lifelong mission. another picture shows him with jesse jackson, who i believe also came to seattle at dr. mckinney's request. but dr. mckinney made the fight for justice in seattle and helped impact our nation. his leadership and dedication to the community will be sorely missed. and as i said, tomorrow many washingtonians will be there to commemorate along with his daughters and many people from mt. zion. as we honor and remember dr. mckinney's life and advocacy, i am reminded of a fitting quote from dr. martin
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luther king. quote, the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy, end quote. in good times and through difficult ones, reverend mckinney stood on the side of justice and for that all of us in the pacific northwest are grateful. i thank the president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the
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the national urban laying one -- the president will discuss the findings of the 201h state of black america report. be sure to watch "washington journal" live at 7:00 o'clock a.m. eastern tuesday morning and joined the discussion. >> tomorrow a hearing on
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puerto rico after the hurricanes last summer we will hear testimony from officials and representatives and u.s. army corps of engineers before the committee tuesday. after that testimony on the 2018 budget request speaking before a senate appropriations subcommittee live 2:30 pm eastern also on c-span3. and on wednesday the confirmation hearing for the next director of the cia. will replace mike pompeo. if confirmed she'll be the first woman to head the cia. starting live wednesday at 9:30 a.m. eastern on c-span3. the neck next to a conversation with health care policy ets

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